Image description

The image shows the map of Romania with blank rectangular markings for penitentiaries, round disk markings for forced labor camps, triangular markings for deportation centers, oval markings for detention and inquiry centers, and cross markings for common graves and places of assassinations and executions. Furthermore, the area around the capital of Bucharest is shown with a close-fitting pattern of round disks and ovals because of its multitude of camps and places of inquiry. The Danube’s riverside also has a mass of camps, inquiry and deportation centers. Constanţa County is also a block of forced labor camps.


Historical information

The Ministry of Internal Affairs’ order no. 57286 from December 4th 1945 decided the classification of penitentiaries according to the sanctions stipulated in the Penal Code: hard labor for life, hard labor for a limited time, correctional punishments for up to 6 (six) months, correctional punishments for up to 2 (two) years, correctional punishments between 2 (two) and 12 (twelve) years. There were also penitentiaries for women and for repeated offenders [Reference 1].

With the complete establishment of the Communist regime in Romania, penitentiaries will be additionally profiled after the type of conviction (common or political offences). For the latter, there is also a classification fitted to the socio-professional and political status of the prisoners, as well as to the functions of the penitentiary itself, such as: centers of inquiry and repositories of the Security agency (Securitate; at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Malmaison, Uranus, Văcărești, Jilava), transit penitentiaries and sorting centers (at Jilava, Ghencea, Rahova, Buzău, Bacău, Botoșani, Brăila), hospital-penitentiaries (at Văcărești, Târgu Ocna), penitentiaries for students (Piteşti), for war criminals (Aiud), for the members of the National-Liberal and National Peasants’ Party (Craiova, Galați, Botoșani), for workers and peasants (Gherla), for legionaries (Aiud), for the elite (Sighet Principal between 1950 and 1955 and Râmnicu Sărat from then on), for women (Mislea), for minors (Târgușor, Cluj), for policemen (Făgăraș [Reference 2]), work colonies and units (the Danube-Black Sea Channel, the Brăila Swamp). As far as categories, penitentiaries were put into 4 (four) types [Reference 3].

After 1945, the evolution of the imprisonment regime shows significant differences in the granting of rights provided in the regulations and organizational rules of the General Directorate of Penitentiaries’ and of various places of detention.

In this sense, between 1945 and 1949 the most part of political detainees benefited from statutory rights (visits, packages, medical care, correspondence, daily walks). After 1949, all of these rights were forbidden at the „spoken orders” of the GDP and of the Ministry of Internal Affairs/ the Security [Reference 4].

The transition to these detention conditions, which had the traits of an extermination of the „ideological enemies of the regime”, was made in two phases. It was initially imposed on May 8th 1949 on those convicted in the Maniu, Popp-Bujor, general Aldea trials, „the heads of subversive organizations and war criminals”. Starting June 1st 1949 the regime was generalized to all categories of political detainees [Reference 5]. For a short period of time, in 1953, detention memoirs underlines a slight melioration of conditions. Some of the convicts were given the right to write to their families or even better nourishment. The improvement of the detention regime was determined by Stalin’s death in March of 1953, on one hand, and by Romania’s entering international organizations and the emergence of a preoccupation concerning its intentional perception from Western countries, on the other hand. The inhumane conditions will be brought back however, and they will dominate the regime after the Hungarian Revolution of October 1956 [Reference 6] until the release of political detainees between 1962 and 1964.



  1. Radu Ciuceanu (editor), Regimul penitenciar din România (1940-1962), București, Editura INST, 2001, pp. 18-20 [The penitentiary regime in Romania]
  2. Pentru mai multe informații despre toate aceste penitenciare, vezi Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, passim. [For further information on all of these penitentiaries, see The dictionary of penitenciaries in Communist Romania]
  3. Radu Ciuceanu (editor), Regimul penitenciar din România (1940-1962), București, Editura INST, 2001, pp. 18 [The penitentiary regime in Romania]
  4. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Penitenciarul Pitești: istoric și regim concentraționar, în Dumitru Lăcătușu, Alin Mureșan (editori), Casa terorii. Documente privind penitenciarul Pitești (1947-1977), pp. 50-52 [The Piteşti Penitentiary: history and concentrationary regime in The House of terror. Documents concerning the Piteşti Penitenciary]
  5. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Galați, în Andrei Muraru (coord.), op. cit., p. 315. [The history of Galaţi Penitentiary]
  6. Teohar Mihadaş, Pe muntele Ebal, [Cluj-Napoca], Editura Clusium, 1990, pp. 283-284; Leonard Kirschen, Deţinut al justiţiei roşii, Bucureşti, Editura Enciclopedică, 2002, pp. 262-263. [On Mount Ebal; A detainee of the red justice]


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